Maternal Support Practitioner MSP Scholarship – Fall 2021
My name is Nicole, but I also go by Nicki or Nicoletta, and I use the pronouns she/her. As a little girl I was obsessed with babies, and I believe this is when the journey began, on my winding path, to become a birth worker. As a young person I did not know about birth workers, but over the years my experiences and choices have gradually shaped me into the person I need to be, so that I can be a fantastic birth worker. I have gone through infertility, due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), experienced tragic loss and overwhelming joy. Here is a snippet of my life’s journey, which has led me to this program and wanting to be a birth worker.
I am the proud momma to a teenage daughter, a kindergartner son, and a toddler baby girl. I have always wanted a lot of children. The road to having my three was not an easy one. I never expected to be a single mother in her late thirties. I gave birth to my first child in my early twenties, despite having PCOS and being told, at 15 years old, I would most likely never be able to have children. The relationship with my partner did not work out so I became a single mother soon after my daughter’s birth. I had dreams of a “typical” family life when I got married to my wife in 2012, but life had a different plan. After 6 years of infertility, my wife and I went through IVF to get pregnant and finally, I gave birth to my son. Having nine years difference between my children was not how I had planned it in my mind, but I felt so blessed to finally have my second child. At this point, I thought my life should finally be that “perfect family picture” that I had always dreamed about. I was mistaken to think that, because my marriage imploded just one month after our son was born. My wife broke my trust and it could not be mended. It made me realize I had to leave the marriage in order to be happy with myself and my life. Yet again, I became a single mom, but with two children this time. However, I still wanted more children despite being in my mid-thirties at this point. I thought to myself, “Will I ever meet anyone who I can have more children with before I am no longer fertile?” I decided that I would use the remaining embryos from my first IVF to have a third child, who would be closer in age to my second child. This began a second difficult journey.
The day before my IVF appointment, to start the embryo transfer process, I received a call from the doctor (the same doctor and hospital where my embryos were kept) to hear there was a major cryogenic freezer unit failure; that my embryos were no longer viable. In simpler terms, they were dead. This was a tragic blow to myself and my oldest daughter. No one close to us seemed to understand and I felt so alone as I went through all the stages of grief from that loss. A few months later, the hospital offered to pay for an additional round of IVF so I could try to have another baby. I decided that this was going to be my path. So, I planned it all out. This intensive and time-consuming IVF procedure would be right after finishing my master’s degree and before returning to work full time.
Going through IVF on my own to have a child was not the path I had seen in my future as a young person. However, it was successful, and I became pregnant with my third child. I was elated and so were my children. We could not wait to find out if we would be welcoming a little sister or brother to our family.
At 8 weeks pregnant, I was on vacation in Florida and began bleeding. I thought I was having a miscarriage. Since we were a 24 hour drive away from my doctors, I had to wait until we came back. I felt helpless. I called the doctor and they scheduled an appointment as soon as I got home. The relief I felt when I saw a tiny heartbeat on the sonogram screen was indescribable. My baby was still with me! Everything continued going well until I reached 14 weeks, when I began bleeding again. I thought for sure I was losing my baby. Another trip to the hospital and I saw that there was a heartbeat, going strong. I finally got the answers to why I was bleeding. It was discovered that I had a subchorionic hematoma and I had to wait it out to see if my baby would survive the bleeding. Thankfully, my pregnancy continued with no more issues and my healthy baby girl was born that summer. She was perfect and beautiful, and my labor was such an amazing experience.
You are probably thinking, why is this woman telling me all this sensitive information about her life? Well, it was every bit of my journey that led me to birth work. When my wife and I were going through infertility, I kept thinking, “I wish I had someone to support us through this who understands what it’s like being a same sex couple going through this process.” I felt lost in all the terminology and procedures. I did not know there were fertility doulas. Then, going through it all again as a single mom, I really wanted a knowledgeable support person, besides scary Dr. Google. Going through IVF and pregnancy as a single parent was a struggle mentally, physically, and spiritually. I looked into hiring a doula (also known as a birth worker) but unfortunately, I could not afford one with my income. I realized that if I felt like I needed support through the fertility treatment process and pregnancy, then there had to be other people who felt the same as I did. I had always had a love for pregnancy, birth, and babies, but this put me into high gear on following that calling. To be able to provide these services to low income, underserved, and unseen people in the minorities would make me feel like I am serving a purpose with my life.
There are a few grant funded programs in the surrounding areas which provide birth workers at low or little cost to anyone who feels they could use that kind of support in their pregnancy. My main focus is trying to set up a program in my community that helps provide birth worker services at low or little cost to people who need or want them. I believe there are so many families who do not get the treatment they deserve due to their life situations, lifestyle choices, or who they are intrinsically. When I decided to have a baby on my own, without a partner, after my divorce, I was viewed as being “crazy, irrational, selfish, etc..” because I chose a path that was not ‘typical’. There are so many people whose lives are not typical, but in reality, why is typical even defined? Who gets to decide what typical looks like and why has that become mainstream? I want to help people feel cared for and I want to empower people to be who they are and be confident in their voices.
I met an amazing mom who told me about her journey to become a birth worker and how Bebo Mia was an integral part of that journey. I began researching Bebo Mia. Everything I learned about Bebo Mia drew me in. I loved that they promoted and supported all people. I am a Pansexual woman and I found it to be so refreshing to find an organization that supports people whole heartedly like myself and all others who chose to be themselves despite the worlds view. I have been in situations where I have been put down or treated like I was different, even when people thought they were being accepting and open, their biases came out.
I wanted to be chosen for this scholarship because, although my intense desire is to be a birth worker, I am a single mom of three children. I do not have the money to pay for the program. I went to college, collected an insane amount of debt, and later realized that what I studied was not my passion. When I received notice of receiving this scholarship and this Bebo Mia opportunity, I cried tears of joy. I have started my classes and I am so eager and curious to learn again because now I see my future – for what it should be.
Thank you Bebo Mia!!
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